Health and Wellness Tips – It’s highly ironic that the main role of a nurse, no matter what level they might be at or what specialism they might have, is to help others, but because of this, they often neglect to help themselves. Many nurses would probably think this is fair; they would prefer to take care of others rather than themselves. However, the truth is that unless a nurse takes good care of their own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, they won’t be able to look after their patients in the best way. In other words, to be the best nurse possible, they need to take care of themselves to enable them to take care of others.
Due to the nature of the work they need to perform, nurses can often run the risk of burning out entirely, or at least not sleeping well, becoming dehydrated, being over or underweight, being stressed, having bad backs, and a lot more. All of this can be dealt with if they simply take some time to look after their own health needs. If you are a nurse and you know you could be taking better care of yourself but you’re not sure how you can do it and work too, read on; here are some useful tips to help you strike the right balance.
Even if the only thing you can do as a nurse to look after your own health better is to eat well, this is a great start. Of course, you’ll need to do more eventually, but everything else can be organized later if you make this your first priority. The great thing about eating well is that it’s easy. Since you would have eaten anyway, it’s a matter of switching unhealthy foods for healthy ones. The time taken to actually eat the food will be the same, so you’re not actually missing out on anything.
Of course, this assumes that you were eating, to begin with. It’s easy to prepare a quick meal, but it’s even easier to skip one altogether. If you’re a busy nurse with many patients to see, this can quickly become a habit, especially if lots of other people are doing the same thing. So, the first thing to do is to ensure you are always able to eat. Even if you don’t get a chance to sit down and just eat a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit literally on the go, this is better than nothing.
It’s also a good idea to prepare your meals in advance. On your first day off, make a plan for all your meals during the week, including those you’ll eat at work. Prepare as many in advance as you can and make use of your freezer to keep them fresh. That way, even after a very long shift when you’re feeling so tired, all you’ll need to do is defrost and heat up something you made days earlier. This will prevent you from skipping meals and stop you from ordering too many takeout meals, which are unhealthy too.
Start a Fitness Routine
You might think that, as a busy nurse who works shifts and barely gets much time to themselves, that trying to fit in a fitness routine is just going to be impossible. Even though your knowledge of the human body means you are completely aware of how important it is to do this and exercise in some ways regularly, ideally every day, if you’re busy, you’ll more than likely tell yourself you can’t do it.
The truth is that you can, however. You only need 20 minutes a day to help you get fit and healthy. Pick a HIIT exercise video from the many free ones available online and, when you get home from your shift or before you leave for work (whichever works best for you, or even switch it up if you prefer), follow it. Make sure your heart rate rises and that you are breathing more heavily, as this will show you’ve done a good workout.
You’ll easily be able to find 20 spare minutes each day, and even if you’re tired, once you start to work out you’ll feel much more awake due to the hormones released into your body. As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy your evening much more or your day at work better when you’re feeling more alert.
Get More Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the essential nutrients we need in life, but it’s also the one that many people lack the most. This is because the main way to get vitamin D is to go outside. The sun’s rays will give you this vitamin, and a few minutes outside – being careful not to get burned, of course – can top up your levels quickly and efficiently. Once you have better levels of vitamin D, you’ll be more awake, happier, and your bones and teeth will be stronger too.
The problem is that nurses can often miss out on getting vitamin D from sunshine due to their shifts. They can often arrive at work when it’s dark and leave after the sun has set, too, meaning they don’t get to see any sunshine at all. Even if the days are longer or they’re working the night shift, so they arrive and leave when it’s light, there still isn’t a lot of time.
Try getting to work ten minutes early and standing outside in the fresh air before going in to start your shift. In this way, you can top up your vitamin D levels, plus you’ll be able to stay calm and center yourself before you start working. Alternatively, make sure you have vitamin D included in your diet (it can be found in red meat, oily fish, and egg yolks, for example), or take supplements.
Think about all the things you tell your patients to do when you’re taking care of them. You’ll ensure they eat well and that they move around, if possible, both of which we’ve already covered. You’ll also remind them to keep drinking and stay hydrated. Do you do the same? Most people don’t. They will only have something to drink if they feel thirsty – which makes sense–, but it’s too late, and they will already be dehydrated by that time. The best thing to do is to continue to sip water throughout the day, even when you don’t feel thirsty, because this will keep you healthier. You won’t develop headaches, dry mouth, or aching limbs and joints associated with dehydration. Plus, your brain will stay more focused, and you’ll be a lot more productive.
It might be that you aren’t allowed to carry water bottles around with you due to health and safety reasons. This makes sense, but it’s potentially problematic if you want to ensure you stay as healthy as possible. If this is the case, set a timer on your phone or watch to remind you to get a glass of water. It will only take a few seconds, and it will help you to keep your fluids at a healthy level.
On the same subject, it’s crucial that you do so as soon as possible if you need to use the bathroom. Holding your urine might seem like a great idea because you know you can do it for a while and you’re busy, but it could be dangerous – holding your pee for a long time can cause urinary tract infections.
Work on your Skills
When you think of your health, you’ll probably come up with a lot of potential problems associated with your physical body. Of course, it’s important to keep on top of these issues, and doing the things we’ve already mentioned will certainly help. However, you must not neglect your mental health. It’s just as important to take care of your mind as it is to take care of your body.
One way to do this is to keep your brain active and work on your skills. You could even use this time to take a new course such as an MSN MBA dual degree that will help you get a promotion or work in a different department. If you’re keeping your brain busy, it makes sense to do something that will benefit you in your career at the same time.
By ensuring your brain is busy, you won’t get bored. Boredom is a potential issue, even in a job like nursing, which is different every day. If you’re treating the same kinds of conditions and helping people in the same kinds of ways all the time, even if you’re always moving around and feel busy, you could still be bored. When boredom sets in, you’ll start to be less motivated in your work, and you’ll potentially make mistakes.
Do Deep Breathing Exercises
You already know that nursing can be extremely stressful. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing – a little stress once in a while is great since it keeps the body alert and the brain active – but when it becomes the normal state of being, it’s not so good. Instead, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart conditions, and many other problems, including those associated with poor mental health.
To calm yourself and reduce your stress, it’s a good idea to try deep breathing exercises. You’ll be less stressed, and your mood will also improve, making you much more helpful for your patients and much happier in your work.